4/12/11 at Yankee Stadium
The weather was crappy. Seriously crappy. It was raining when I left my apartment. It was raining when I got off the No. 4 train at 161st Street. And it was raining when I ran inside Yankee Stadium.
This was the result:
No batting practice.
Last season, I never would’ve left home on a day like this. I was hard at work on The Baseball and didn’t have much free time, so I had to choose my games wisely. In other words, I pretty much only went to games if the weather was nice, and as a result, I averaged 9.5 balls per game. This season, that number is already way down, and that’s fine. I’m more interested in the total number of balls that I snag, and I’m also making more of an effort to catch game home runs, so even if it rains, there’s a good chance that I’ll be there.
Anyway, as you can see in the photo above, several Orioles were playing catch. At one point, Zach Britton (the lefty wearing orange) made a low throw that skipped past Jake Arrieta and bounced all the way into the sixth row. Unfortunately, I was stuck behind the partition (seven rows back), but since there weren’t any other fans around me, the nearest security guard had no choice but to toss the ball to me. Here’s a photo of her:
The photo above shows the partition. See the railing and the row of cup holders? You can’t get any closer than that unless you pay zillions of dollars for a ticket right near the field.
Two minutes after the guard tossed me that ball, I got one of the Orioles to throw me another — and he threw it HARD, easily 60 to 70 miles per hour. I’m not sure who it was. I took a rushed/blurry photo of him and emailed it to my friend Avi, who’s a diehard Orioles fan and knows everything about the team. This was his reply:
“He’s a random coach the Orioles have, last name I think is Mauro (something like that, maybe Mavro, don’t remember). I see him during BP in a uni but nowhere else. I’ll text Ronnie Deck (bullpen catcher) in the morning to ask his name.”
I haven’t yet gotten a follow-up email from Avi, but I’m confident that he’ll figure out this mini-mystery for me.
Speaking of Ronnie Deck, I believe that’s who tossed the final ball into the seats. He lobbed it to a man and his two young daughters who were standing just behind the partition, ten feet to my left. The ball sailed too high, ricocheted absurdly off a railing, and trickled right to me through an empty row. I picked it up and handed it to one of the girls, and yes, I do count that ball in my stats.
At 6:40pm I was interviewed by phone for a podcast on a Phillies blog called FightinPhillies.com. Before I post the link to it, I have to warn you that I was a bit distracted for four reasons:
1) It was really noisy at the stadium and hard to hear.
2) My friends Andrew and Dorkys showed up mid-interview.
3) I was getting rained on.
4) I heard an announcement that the Yankee game had been postponed.
That said, click here if you’d like to listen to the interview. Despite the distractions, I think it still turned out great.
Here I am with Andrew and Dorkys just after the game had been called off. Look how sad we are:
Andrew asked a good question as we were heading out of the stadium: “How does this affect your stats?”
The answer is that I do count it as a “game” because…the three baseballs I snagged didn’t materialize out of thin air.
“But what if you hadn’t snagged any balls?” he asked.
I shrugged. I’d been to lots of postponed games over the years, and I’d always managed to get at least one ball.
Andrew, a huge Lakers fan, compared it to the “and one” situation in basketball: if you get fouled while taking a shot, it only counts as a shot attempt if you make it. I never thought of ballhawking at a postponed game that way — it only counts if you snag something — but it makes perfect sense.
• 46 balls in 7 games this season = 6.57 balls per game.
• 668 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 502 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 142 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball
• 4,708 total balls
(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn more.)
• 36 donors
• $5.74 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $17.22 raised at this game
• $264.04 raised this season
Two more things…
1) Here’s a side-by-side photo of the two balls I kept — one photo in regular light and another in black light:
2) On my way to this game, I took a photo from the train of the old Yankee Stadium, or rather what’s there now. Check it out: